Please tell us a bit of what your book is about.
Archie Appleby is a regular boy who finds himself in a weird situation. When his parents go out of town, Archie is left for two nights with his Great Aunt Ruth whose scary old house happens to be on the way. Archie is highly imaginative and is often accused of exaggerating, so when he learns about his missing uncle and hears strange noises coming from the basement all day and night, naturally Archie thinks something creepy is going on. Archie Appleby provides just the right amount of scary mystery and humor to keep kids guessing and wondering why on earth Aunt Ruth is so protective of the basement and whether Archie will ever find out what is inside.
What kinds of themes / issues are raised in this story?
IMAGINATION: Archie uses his imagination to explore his understanding of sounds, actions and the behavior of others.
FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS: Children often feel powerless when parents and older relatives seem to hold all the answers. Archie Appleby is a great example of a child placed in an unfamiliar family situation where he feels he has no ally.
BRAVERY: Archie is not satisfied with his aunt’s explanations about the cause of strange noises coming from the basement and where Uncle Jock is.
FEAR: This ties into Bravery. At times Archie is fearful and in The Terrible Case of the Creeps he must overcome this feeling to be brave.
SAFETY: Despite the wish to be brave, safety is still paramount in any situation.
PERSISTENCE: Sometimes it’s easy to give up on just about anything. Archie shows persistence in his quest to see what is in the basement.
TRUST: This is such a personal and important theme that it could take any direction. In Archie Appleby we know that Archie trusts his parents, after all, they leave him at Aunt Ruth’s, even though he has a few doubts.
SPEAKING OUT: This is a vital skill which is often uncomfortable, especially for a child.
PERSONALITIES: Although Aunt Ruth appears mean and grumpy, it is important for Archie to discover more pleasant aspects of her personality.
How are these important to you in raising awareness to your readers?
I hope that children feel empowered to ask questions in any situation. Through Archie’s persistence and determination, he shows readers that even though a question might seem silly, it doesn’t matter. Nobody should be afraid to ask questions.
Who or what inspired you to write this story?
I have always liked stories that include humor, quirkiness, spookiness and mystery set against an everyday setting. I hope I have captured these elements in Archie. I first had the idea to write it when I was doing a Scooby Doo jigsaw with my kids. It was a glow in the dark puzzle set in a creepy house.
What is your favourite part of the book?
I really chuckle when Archie quizzes Aunt Ruth about the ingredients used in her cookies and whether they might be responsible for cousin Cecil’s poisoning. I love that Archie is cheeky and forthright while asking questions with a sense of humor.
How would you describe the publishing process? Were they supportive? How long did it take?
Wombat were very supportive and the whole process remained open, constructive and allowed for changes that in the end made the manuscript so much stronger. From submission to book release was three years. There were different stages of editing. Over a twelve month period there were structural edits before the contract was signed. Then in 2016 we worked on various edits involving grammar, dialogue, action etc. I have to thank Emily the editor for pushing me to come up with a new ending and also, she came up with the title. Collaboration works.
What was the collaboration like between author and illustrator? Juicy gossip, please!
I can tell you that when I received the first image from the book, I was totally delighted. Krista Brennan totally captured the look and feel of the characters. When I received the proof copy and saw all the illustrations, I couldn’t have been happier. There was one image where I asked Krista to make a couple of adjustments. She did it no problem and put Archie in PJ’s and adjusted what Aunt Ruth was carrying. Perfect.
What has the feedback / audience response been like so far?
So far people have said how much they like the cover, and I love it too. For those who have read it, they like the humor and Archie’s big imagination. Lamont Standing Orders have released a review which is on their website.
What teaching and learning ideas would you suggest to complement this book?
Teaching notes can be found at the Wombat Books website here.
Do you have a book trailer for your book? Please share.
Rochelle at Wombat has made a trailer featuring Archie and some other younger reader books.
Any details on your book launch you’d like to tell us about?
The book launch will be on July 5 at my local library in Torquay. We are still working out details but it should be fun! Perhaps I’ll make eye of newt cookies.
Please let us know where we can find more on you and your book.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Kaye! 😱 🔦
Thanks for asking. It’s been fun talking about Archie!
Kaye Baillie writes picture books, short stories and chapter books for children, and enjoys dabbling with poetry. Her short stories have appeared in the NSW School Magazine, Short Tales 2, Hopscotch anthology and in 2013 she won the Charlotte Duncan Award.
When she is not scribbling down ideas for new stories Kaye can be found at the library, walking her dog on the beach, eating cake, or trying to keep up with her two teenage daughters and their grumpy old cat.